Blues, folk and country influenced album featuring some virtuoso guitar playing.
Whitney Lockert was a stalwart of the New York country scene in the 2010s, before returning home to California a few years ago. ‘Long Way To California’ is Lockert’s second studio album and it’s a reflection on his time living in the Big Apple, as well as re-acclimatising to the Golden State. The album comprises nine songs which range from acoustic strummers to rockier, Neil Youngesque, grungy arrangements. The album opens with the title track, which sets out the record’s themes of seeking contentment and a place in the world. The song muses on leaving everything behind and hitting the road ‘in an old dirty car’, in search of a place to ‘build something old’ and finding some stability, as well as companionship.
‘Girl On A Train’ is an acoustic song telling the tale of two strangers who catch each other’s eyes on the New York subway and what could have been. Lockhert’s acoustic guitar playing is accompanied by some tender pedal steel guitar playing. ‘I Think I Blew It’ and ‘This Disguise’ showcase Lockert’s rockier side, in the latter he could be playing with Crazy Horse, as he wrings shrieking solos from his electric guitar.
‘The Desert And The Sea’ highlights Lockert’s acoustic fingerpicking which was inspired by West African guitar playing; Lockert’s previously worked with the late Nigerian reggae star Majek Fashek. The song contemplates life in Los Angeles and the sometimes on-off nature of relationships, as Lockert sings: ‘You want to go and I want to stay, And sometimes it feels like it’s slipping away, But I come around every once in a while, Back to the place that I found in your smile’.
The album is brought to a close by ‘Staten Island Blues’, a song which was written by Lockert after Eric Garner’s murder by a New York City Police Department officer in 2014. Garner was killed after having been arrested on the suspicion of selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. The song commences with some sullen guitar before building into a bluesy solo which reflects the sadness that these events are still happening regularly today. ‘Long Way To California’ is album about change and seeking contentment. It’s a well-produced record, with some fine guitar playing, which which should appeal to fans of Neil Young and Duane Allman.